In 2003, as my son was born, the US went to war in Iraq.

I can remember laying in my hospital bed nursing my tiny boy as the pundits and politicians lined up behind then President Bush and nodded their heads.

If he says we need to go, we need to go

We have to keep our country safe

In the wake of 9-11 not many questioned the war in Iraq and the country rallied behind the cause.

Well, most of the country. I was one of those few skeptics that hadn’t heard a compelling reason to start bombing. My husband, on the other hand, thought we should trust our President. But in all those speeches and in all that rhetoric, something was missing for me.


I took it as a given that we were being lied to. I took it as a given that we didn’t have all the information. I took it as a given that we were going to war for reasons other than terrorists.

As it turns out, I was right. I don’t say that to rub it in faces or stick my tongue out…but to remind myself that not everything is always as it seems.

Last night I dutifully watched President Obama lay out his reasons for sending more troops to Afghanistan. I wanted to hear compelling reasons to put Americans in harms way. I wanted to hear something HUGE to make me nod my head and say …yes, yes Mr. President, this is what you have to do.

I’m not sure I did.

I heard about the Generals on the ground needing more troops. Yes…that makes sense. I heard about the ongoing terror threat to our nation, although with zero details other than ‘we’ve recently stopped a few bad guys’ I had a hard time swallowing that one. I heard about getting Afghanistan on it’s feet so it could support itself. What I didn’t hear was something that made me say ‘My God, we MUST do this.’

But this time around, I have something I didn’t have before.


Call me naive but just like last time, with another President, I think there are many things we don’t know. And our leaders are making decisions with information we’ll never see, and for reasons we’ll never know.

It boils down to my trust of President Obama to not be after oil. It boils down to my trust of President Obama to not be putting our soldiers in harm’s way for profit, posture, or politics.

I did not have this trust in President Bush and I did not believe his motives were sincere.

But trust..isn’t enough. I can’t just go on faith. I never have, I never will. me, is for the weak. Harsh, I know…but I can’t change who I am. So I was somewhat encouraged to hear, what I thought, was a more detailed plan and strategy for this ‘surge.’

There is a plan to get in and a plan to get out. For skeptics like me, who aren’t even sure we should be there, this is important. Just like the President is refusing to ‘write a blank check’ for war, I’m refusing to write a blank check to him. He knows this. He gave me a map to make that fear go away. Mostly. Because most of know these maps and goals are not hard and fast or set in stone, and most of us know this is all a round about way to get Pakistan in line.

But my President knows I’m that smart. So he gave me the tools I needed to be comfortable with this surge. Not entirely behind it, mind you…but comfortable with it.

Last time around it was blind trust. You weren’t given anything but ‘we know what we’re doing, either get in line behind everyone else or side with them.’ If you questioned you were called unpatriotic and if you dared speak out the chorus to silence you was swift and severe.

Not so this time. There is healthy debate over the matter. Allies are breaking ranks to say you know what, Mr. President…we think you’re wrong and should do it this way instead. The usual anti-war protest groups are rallying and the Right is…well, the Right is seemingly opposing it simply because it’s President Obama.

However the discussion is there, it’s on the forefront, and it’s not being pushed behind the curtain.

So while many of us may be unsure about this surge, we can already see the progress in the country’s attitude, and atmosphere. We can already hear the difference in a leader that talks of mutual respect, not ‘you’re either with us, or against us.’ We can even permit ourselves to have the slightest amount of trust, despite nearly a decade of lies and broken promises.

No, I’m not happy about this surge…but I don’t think my President is either. He doesn’t seem to want to do it just as much as I don’t want to let him…and for that…I am grateful.


  1. Well said.

  2. Very well said, Erin. I’m not fully in agreement, but I like your logic and premise. I think this will be far messier, and just at the time we’re exiting (if it really does happen around the 18 month mark) is when The Bad Guys will turn Afghanistan into a horrible bloodbath. In short, they’ll wait us out then wreak havoc.

    However, time will tell.

  3. You hit the nail on the head exactly. I’m much more inclined to trust this president than the last one. I don’t think he’s lying to us. I think he really believes this is the right thing to do, and since I know him to be smart and reasonable, I am comfortable that he has studied the situation hard, has made use of all the resources available to him and is making the best of all possible decisions regarding this situation. I trust that he is representing the United States in an honorable and responsible way, and that he’s not lying about the reasons he has decided to do this. I still don’t like war, I’m still disappointed that it’s not over, but I am not a child; I will not stamp my feet and wail tremulously, “B-b-but you PROMISED!”. I get why we’re doing this, and I get that when you’re a grown-up, sometimes you just have to suck it up.

    Erin White

  4. I tuned in last night prepared to remain angry about the troop surge. As he continued to speak, some of the anger dissipated. Not all of it as I’m just so tired of all of this crap. But I felt similar to what you so eloquently wrote. Your last paragraph sums up exactly how I feel.

    As I posted on your BlogHer post, part of me understood what he was saying last night. The rest of me was just glad my husband is no longer in the Army. I think I’d be much more angry (still) if I didn’t know he was staying at home.

  5. I absolutely did NOT say we should trust Bush going into Iraq. I knew it was going to happen as soon as the Bush Doctrine rhetoric started. So I was resigned to that fact, but in no way whatsoever did I endorse it or think we should just trust Bush. That’s kind of insulting. Get yer facts straight.

  6. I agree with what has been said above. My skepticism is still there but muted to a point. I liked hearing President Obama say that he had looked at this from a human toll viewpoint as well as an economic one. I was also impressed that he talked about the fact that if he hadn’t been convinced that this was the best call he would have called all our troops home tomorrow. He actually talked with families and went to Dover to confront the human toll of this war. Hope he is right.

  7. Aaron- we obviously have very different memories. In my memory of the situation you totally said to trust Bush. You said, in that hospital, we have to be behind our President and trust he knows better than we do. You were the only one in our house that was ‘for’ the war at the time. You changed over time…but in the beginning you were with the rest of the country. you were not the only one. I know this because I remember arguing about it and we disagreed. And I was floored you were for it.

  8. I do trust Obama much more, although I don’t agree we should send more troops. I was never for the war in the first place, never trusted Bush and I could never imagine a sensible reason for attacking Iraq. While yes much of the country was all over that, there were lots and lots of us totally anti-war and anti-Bush.

    Heard some interviews of the soldiers over there…one said he was glad there would be more to help protect the ones already there, but didn’t really think it would help the situation itself.

  9. Erin – This is absolutely where I am now too. And where I was when we went into Iraq. I had to comment because Trey and I were discussing it last night and I remembered his comments as being very much how you remembered Aaron’s. He kept saying that the administration had more information than us and they couldn’t necessarily put sources in danger by revealing it all. I kept saying bullshit. Of course, now, Trey has a completely different memory of what he thought!

  10. I understand that this situation is really a lose-lose. I understand that the President is in a difficult position, to put it mildly.

    I do think that this is the wrong decision. The history of the region seems to be so easily ignored. We, as any other country or empire from the past, will never “win” with guns and bombs.

    Instead we need an overwhelming humanitarian and building effort and we need to build what the people want, not what we think is best for them. The Afghani people need to be employed in this effort.

    If we are intent on being there then we need to give the Afghani people education and opportunity. We need to accept that not everyone around the world wants to live like us and appreciate the differences.

    I’m glad I trust the President instead of not believing a word he utters as I did for 8 years, but that trust doesn’t make a bad decision better.

  11. Very well said.

    I was one of those people, like you, looking around in March 2003 and going, “Uh, what?” I remember being so scared at what was happening to the country then. It’s still scary now, but at least I don’t feel like I’m witnessing that scene in Dr. Strangelove where Peter Sellers is riding the bomb into the ground. Ugh.

  12. I don’t entirely agree with you. I don’t think very many people actually trusted Pres. Bush. I think we went to war in Iraq because the Senators and Congressmen (and women) did not want to look at the facts. They wanted to go with what was “popular” at the moment.

    I also do not look at Pres. Bush as a demon who sought to tell lies to all of us for oil. Really, sold us for oil? I think he became overzealous in achieving his goals.

    That does not mean I agreed on going to Iraq. I think Pres. Bush did not look at all the facts presented to him.

    That was a ramble. Back to the main point.

    This troop surge? Maybe it is necessary. Maybe not. However, Pres. Obama did state that Afghanistan was an important issue while campaigning. He is sticking to his promise. I admire that. As for trust? I am not sure.

    I do not think faith is weak, as long as it isn’t placed in men. We have our follies. Too many, in fact.

    P.S. This comment is not meant to be scathing. Much of it has a sarcastic lilt. I am glad you wrote this, it sparks discussion and critical thinking.

  13. I agree with you and I totally agree with GreenInOC. War is not the way to go but really, the President does not have much choice given the mess the last one left him with!

  14. I don’t trust Obama. I think that his foreign policy is weak, naive and in many ways useless. I think that he is well intentioned and that he is trying to do the right thing. I hope that I am proven wrong on all accounts. It would make me very happy.

    I am not a big Dubya supporter or basher of Obama. I think that we are dealing with problems that started decades ago and nothing is going to change over night.

    I think that General Sherman was absolutely right, “Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.”

    If you go to war then you unleash the gates of hell and destroy the enemy so that they are unwilling to continue fighting. If you can’t do that then you need to seriously consider what you intend to do.

    IMO we are fighting a war of ideologies that requires force and diplomacy. But we haven’t figured out how to do so properly and telling the enemy when we intend to leave isn’t helping. What is the point.

    If we are going to place our troops in harms way we need to do better by these guys than that.

  15. Such a relief to have a president you trust. I agree.


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